Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Financial Aid Worries

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Financial Aid Worries

Article excerpt

Y2K problems could affect the economic lifeline of many students

WASHINGTON -- Many of the nation's colleges and universities have failed to show that they are prepared to deal with the year 2000 bug and students receiving financial aid may suffer because of it, a new report says.

Preliminary results of a U.S. Department of Education survey reveal that 46 percent of colleges do not have a written Y2K plan. Another 42 percent say they do not expect to complete year 2000 preparations until after this month.

"These early survey results raise a concern that a significant percentage of postsecondary institutions may be at risk for Y2K-related failures," concludes a report by the inspector general's office for the Education Department.

In addition, postsecondary institution participation in available test windows has been low, the 32-page report says. Only 15 schools participated in the first round of tests. Of those, only three of the schools passed the tests.

The ramifications that any Y2K failures will have on students who receive financial aid is hard to predict, says Steven A. McNamara, the assistant inspector general for audits with the Inspector General's office.

"The impact would vary depending on how large and how complex the institution's system is," McNamara says. "In most cases, it will be hard to determine the integrity and the accuracy of the financial awards."

Schools in states providing Y2K funding and setting compliance requirements may be better prepared to avoid failures and financial aid snafus.

At North Carolina A&T University, the financial aid systems are Y2K ready according to Renee Martin, director of administrative information systems and Y2K coordinator. In 1996 the Greensboro, N.C. school began its own systems assessment and in 1997 the state of North Carolina formed a Y2K management office, supplying detailed groundrules for state universities to meet Y2K compliance. …

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